Home Canning: What do you Really Need?

by GettingFreedom on June 12, 2009

*This is Part 2 of the Home Canning Series, go here to read Part 1: Getting Started.*

Now that we have went over the 2 different methods to canning, and you know what type of canner you will need for what you are canning–lets take a look at the other supplies that you may need.

Supplies Needed for Home Canning

Food to be Canned

Before you begin, make sure that you have your food all ready to go. The amount of preperation all depends on what exactly you are canning.

Recipe and Recent Canning Guide.

This part is very important. The whole reason you have to process the jars in the first place is to rid them of any bacteria that might be present. Different foods require different processing times/methods and they have changed over time–that is why you need a recent canning guide. I highly recommend Ball’s Blue Book to Preserving.

Jars

These can be used or new. The only thing to watch out for when buying used ones are nicks and cracks. You can not use those! We use mostly quarts for our vegetables, pickles and spagetti sauce, so we need more of these than pints and half pints. The only thing we really use those for are salsa and jams/jellies. The half pints are tiny, but make great gifts when filled with homemade jelly!

Lids/Rings

These go on top of your jars to seal them. The lid goes directly on the top of your jar, and the rings screws onto the jar to hold the lid in place while you are processing them. You can re-use your rings year to year as long as they are not corroded or rusted. Once your lid has been used and sealed on a jar, you can not reuse it again. They will not seal properly the second time.

Silicone Oven Mitt or Jar Lifter

While I probably shouldn’t openly promote a Silicone Oven Mitt for removing the jars from the canner, I will say that it worked perfectly for me. All I had to do was put it on and reach into the canner and pull out my jars. I obviously had to use caution when doing so, but it was all I had and I wasn’t going to go out and buy a new fangled gadget just because. But then, my husband bought me a Jar Lifter for Christmas. I’ve only used it when I canned jalapenos a few weeks ago, but I liked it. You reach it in the canner and grab onto the jar, close it and pull the jar out. Easy as that.

Plastic Utensil

 I use the handle of a plastic spoon or spatula. After you fill up the jars with your product, you have to remove all of the air bubbles before you place on the lids/rings. You cannot use a metal utensil because it could nick/crack the side of the jar.

Food Mill or a Food Processor

 I actually didn’t have any of these last year, but it sure would have made things easier and less time consuming. My hubby really came to the rescue this year at Christmas–because I got both. I have yet to use the food mill, but I use my food processor multiple times a week.  For things like Apple Butter–it makes the process so much easier!

Timer

 Everything you can has a different length of processing time, and sometimes it can be an hour. Your timer will become your friend.

Sharpie or Labels

It is always a good idea to atleast write the date you canned the item on it. For my personal pantry I just use a Sharpie on the lid since it cannot be reused anyway. But when giving as a gift, you can use labels that you print off your computer that have the date canned as well as the contents.

Dry Towel

When you remove your newly processed jars from the canner, you need to place them on a dry towel to cool.
pantry

Storage Spot

Home canned goods are best if stored in cool, dark places since sunlight/heat can diminsh the nutritional value. They can be stored for a year, if canned correctly, without losing any quality/nutritional value. You can use them after a years time, just inspect the jars to make sure that the contents haven’t changed colors and the seal hasn’t broken.

Patience

Especially the first time. Until you get the hang of it, it may take you some time to do the process from start to finish. Don’t let this discourage you! Just make sure that when you decide to can, that you set aside an entire day and don’t rush yourself. You want to make sure that you do it right. Cutting corners trying to save time isn’t going to get you anywhere in the end.

Some of these things you may already have in your kitchen–and the rest is a one time investment so don’t let the list scare you away! Once you have your supplies, you will have them forever unless you choose to get rid of them. A one time investment to be able to have fresh, preservative free, home canned goods catered to my family’s taste sounds like a plan to me!

 

**Be sure to also check out the guest post I did for Eat at Home that talks about some of the other reasons why I choose to can my own food.

 

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